Great vacation T-Shirts

For many years the only way to get an image on cloth was through a process called screen printing. Screen printing is cumbersome and slow, but it can be effective if done right. Screen printing is also the most economical method of making multiple copies which are identical.

As well as traditional screen printing which has its advantages, there is also a method called heat transfer which is extremely popular for one-off prints on cloth, often T-Shirts. No doubt you have seen some pretty wild designs on T-Shirts at tourist destinations; these will have been applied to a plain shirt, on the spot, using heat transfer.

Screen printed transfers are great where the run is short; one piece is fine. It eliminates the expense and time of preparing the screen, there is no cleanup to speak of and it’s less expensive.

Let’s have a quick look at the real advantages and disadvantages of both these methods; silk screening and screen printed transfers:

Silk screening is the method of choice when the material to be printed on is wood, plastic; glass, etc. although it is not really good for textured materials. The finished product will last for many years in an outdoor environment because it takes a long time for the inks that are used in silk screening to fade. It is possible to get repeatability; it gives very good detail and is economical when the runs are substantial. The only problem with silk screening is the production of the actual screen which is a rather lengthy process. To make the screen, most people are now using a photosensitive material; this screen is covered with an emulsion which reacts to UV light. A stencil, today the stencil is usually computer generated, is placed on the screen, it is exposed to the UV light and then washed off. The areas that were exposed to the light get hard whereas the areas that were covered are washed away allowing the ink to pass through onto the surface of the material being printed

On the other hand are screen printed transfers are quick and easy, although they usually will not last as long as a design which has been applied by silk screening. Any design can be created, any combination of colors can be used, all of which is done on a computer. Once the design has been finalized it is a simple matter to print out as many as you want onto a special paper which is coated with a clear film. When the design is placed on the material, most of the time a T-Shirt, heat is applied and through a combination of heat and pressure, the design is transferred from the sheet to the fabric, just that simple. There is no clean up, just dispose of a piece of paper.

With fabric that has been printed with a heat transfer it can be washed and ironed, unfortunately, a fabric which has been silk screened, although it can be washed, cannot be ironed.

The nice thing about using heat applied designs is the relative ease and low cost of having whatever T-Shirt turns you on when you are on vacation. Visit us online for more details

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